LASER MEDICINE/RAMAN: New tunable, CW diamond Raman lasers promising for life sciences

Researchers at the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, Scotland) and Element Six (Ascot, England) have teamed up to develop what are reportedly the first-ever tunable, continuous-wave (CW) diamond Raman lasers, which are able to produce higher-power beams with a wider range of colors than current Raman lasers. The innovation promises important new applications, including better treatment of skin conditions, diabetes-related eye conditions, and improved pollution monitoring.

The lasers allow selection of wavelengths to meet specific needs. For example, the treatment of vascular lesions (and retinal bleeding of blood vessels at the back of the eyes as well) requires a yellow/orange light that is difficult to produce with conventional lasers, but which is needed to maximize absorption by the lesion while minimizing damage to surrounding tissue. Diamond's optical properties enable diamond lasers to produce these colors, which are hard to generate by conventional means.

The CW aspect is important because pulsed lasers are unsuited to some medical and other applications—for example, where pulses would damage delicate structures in the eye due to acoustic disturbances.—John Wallace

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